English dialects in the North of England

The North of England is a region whose boundaries have been defined in a number of different ways by laypersons, members of the tourist industry and linguists. Dialectologists have attempted to define the North in purely linguistic terms. In this chapter "the North of England" is defined as coterminous with that of Anglo-Saxon Northumbria, i.e. stretching from Berwick-upon-Tweed and Carlisle in the North, to Sheffield in the South, and including Merseyside and all of pre-1972 Lancashire (thus also Warrington and Widnes, which are now in Cheshire), and all of Yorkshire and Humberside. As regards northern dialects a frequently uttered concern is that there is an increasing tendency to assimilate the form of the respective dialect with the current English of the schools. It is certainly the case that traditional dialects are being replaced by more modern, urban vernaculars, and that, within certain regions, the dialect of influential towns and cities is spreading. But even where there is clear evidence of levelling in the North, this seems to be in the direction of a regional, or pan-northern, rather than a national model, so that northern dialects can confidently be expected to remain distinctive for some time yet.

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